Statement by Mr. Abdalla Hamdok Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA


Climate and Justice

Statement by Mr. Abdalla Hamdok Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA

20 October 2013, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Your Excellency Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation;

Your Excellency Festus Mogae, Former President of Botswana;


Distinguished Participants;

Ladies and Gentlemen


It is indeed a pleasure and a great honour to welcome you to the Economic Commission for Africa and to this important dialogue on climate and justice.

As you may already know, this dialogue comes just before the Third Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa, which starts tomorrow.

It is, therefore, an excellent opportunity and platform for a collective reflection on many of the questions that are central to Africa’s economic growth and development and the opportunities and challenges that climate change presents.


Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past decade, Africa’s economic growth figures have grown impressively from averages of 2.1 percent in the 1990s to 5 percent in the 2000s. The questions that should be asked are: What has been the quality of this rapid economic growth? How many people has it lifted out of poverty? To what extent has this growth been inclusive?  What has been the effect of climate stressors?

The scientific evidence is telling us that we are heading into dangerous territory.  The window of opportunity to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate system is closing, and the risks for increased natural catastrophic impacts for both ecosystems and humankind are growing. As these risks increase, we will be literally shifting the burden of responsibility to vulnerable groups, who deserve a fair shot at a good life and equitable access to sustainable development.  As we all know, the Kyoto Protocol, is built on principles of equity and fairness, but these very principles fall short in ensuring that the solution space needs to include vulnerable groups in identifying sustainable responses. For instance, agriculture remains the back- bone of many African economies. However, climate change has made traditional agriculture less profitable and increasingly unpredictable with serious implications for rural/urban migration and fast growing cities that are ill-equipped to provide much needed services and social amenities to an ever expanding population.


Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Africa has engaged actively in the UN climate change negotiations since the inception of the UNFCCC. Following the disappointing outcome of the 2009 Copenhagen Conference, the UNFCCC process regained some momentum at meetings held in Cancun in 2010 and at the “African COP” in Durban in 2011, which launched new negotiations under the Durban Platform towards a new climate agreement by 2015 under Workstream One, as well as a process to close the ambition gap in Workstream Two. At the 2012 Doha Conference parties agreed a set of decisions dubbed the “Doha Gateway” and agreed to launch a second period of commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and concluded negotiations under the Bali Action Plan.

In a few weeks, we will all be converging in Warsaw, Poland for the 19th Conference of Parties meeting. It is important to recognise that the politics of the negotiations present an increasing challenge for Africa. We have noted the tendency of some countries to seek to re-order the current climate architecture in a way that weakens commitments for developed countries, shifts burdens to developing countries, and threatens to unravel the international climate change regime. A number of developed countries have withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol or failed to undertake a second period of commitments. And legitimate concerns arise about whether existing commitments on adaptation, finance, technology, and mitigation have been honoured.


Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Addressing the impacts of climate change clearly evokes questions on climate justice. While Africa’s contribution to the greenhouse gas concentration is the least of all regions, it stands to bear the most severe impacts of climate change. Many economic sectors are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Agriculture, a sector that supports nearly 80 percent of the rural population in Africa is largely rain fed and highly exposed to the impacts of climate change. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that has anchored many of the negotiations tracks since the 1990s seems to have come under attack, especially from the developed countries. It is therefore, quite important for civil society to actively engage in ensuring that, the fruits of economic development accrue to all in society, and in a manner that is socially inclusive, economically and environmentally sustainable.


Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Climate change is probably the single biggest threat that is facing humanity, but it is also the most compelling opportunity that we have to create a shared vision on how the principles of enlightened self-interest and solidarity across nations can lead to sustained growth and shared opportunities for all. We should endeavour to uphold these principles and basic human rights for both current and future generations. This is the level of our ambition and the extent to which we must act now!

I wish you successful and fruitful deliberations.

I thank you for your kind attention!